Even though the Sheng Siong controversy has quietened down, the Singapore Democrats are still very much alive to the concerns of the residents and stallholders affected by the sales of wet markets to private companies.
This is because the conversion of the wet markets will in all likelihood raise the cost of operations which will in turn raise prices for shoppers. This being the case the SDP is opposed to the sale of the properties.
According to reports the sale will have to be approved by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) sometime in January 2010. Such as it is, the Singapore Democrats call on the HDB not to approve the sale:
25 November 2009
Mr Lim Huat Eng
Commercial Properties Management Section
Housing and Development Board
Re: Sale of wet markets to Sheng Siong Pte Ltd
I read from news reports that Sheng Siong is set to acquire various wet markets around Singapore. I also note that the HDB would have to approve the transaction before the sale can go through and that the HDB will decide on this in January next year.
I would like to ascertain if indeed these reports are true.
If they are, the Singapore Democratic Party clearly and unequivocally call on the authority not to approve the sale. The reason is that Singaporeans, both the consumers and stallholders, will not be well served by the privatisation of the wet markets.
Sheng Siong has refused to make clear its plans for the markets after the acquisition which could include air-conditioning the premises and making them 24-hour operations. This will increase costs which will inevitably be passed on to consumers.
As many, if not most, of the residents using wet markets are the older generation as well as lower income consumers, the privatisation of these markets will affect them the most.
In addition there is a high chance that stallholders will lose their livelihoods and independence, and become employees of the new landlord. Rents for the stalls may increase which will add to the hardships of the vendors.
Given these scenarios it is unwise for the wet markets to be sold to private owners and HDB must not allow their sale to go through.
I would like to meet with officials from your office to hear first hand the status of the proposed takeover and to present the concerns of those affected by such a takeover.
I look forward to your reply.
Singapore Democratic Party
SDP opposes the sale of Bukit Panjang wet market